Yesterday, after reading The Catalog's Last Stand [PDF] as well as an email from a colleague, I wanted to look at two memes circulating these debates. A couple of things I find odd, if not downright perplexing:
- At a time of increased importance of metadata creation and the Semantic Web, we're "trying to get rid of catalog librarians." The librarians who've been creating metadata all along. Rather than encourage catalogers to expand their skills as digital projects come along, I keep hearing about how administrators want to "get rid of cataloging and catalogers."
- There's a meme going around that catalogers are obsessed with "descriptive cataloging." That our main focus is bibliographic description. When the reality is good catalogers have always emphasized access over description. Providing access to library materials for users has always been our main focus. Catalogers are user-centric.
By the way, we ignore bibliographic description to our own peril. It's primary purpose is the identification of library materials and isn't "identify" one of the FRBR user tasks?
So, that's my two cents. I find the focus of the discuss short-sighted. I think these administrators lack real vision about the catalog's future. Most of all I think they lack good will. They don't really value the work that catalogers have done over the years. People go on and on how wonderful OCLC WorldCat is, what a great resource. But recognizing that it's the cataloging community that built that resource--Why doesn't somebody write an article about that?